How your mindset affects outcomes

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A mindset is the mental frame that you organise and orientate the world with. Your mindset will dictate the actions you take to achieve and sustain success as well as how you go about problem solving and generating ideas. Not only does your mindset guide your actions, it guides how you react too.

Your mindset is formed through a combination of your thoughts, experiences and values. You can change your mindset through mindfulness and self-awareness.

Types of Mindsets

None of us are simply one type of mindset all of the time. We are all unique and may take on many different perspectives, beliefs and mindsets throughout our lifetime. There are many different theories and ways of thinking of mindsets. Here are a few popular ones:

  • Growth vs. Fixed Mindset:  First described by Carol Dweck, this definition of mindset is largely based on abundance thinking and scarcity thinking. With a growth mindset one views their skills and capabilities as abundant and something that can improve over time. In a fixed mindset, intelligence and abilities are viewed as finite and something less able to change or evolve.

  • Optimistic vs. Pessimistic: Someone who is an optimist may believe the best about people, situations and outcomes. A pessimist is likely to expect the opposite and predict negative outcomes. Both of these mindsets affect not only how we perceive outcomes but guide our actions in accordance with our expectations.

  • Risk-taker or Risk Averse: In general we tend to avoid taking risks if we believe that the negatives outweigh the positives. How we evaluate whether or not a risk is worth taking is largely influenced by our mindset.  

The Impact of Mindset on Learning

Both adults and children learn new information and skills better when they adopt a growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset view their intelligence as limited and are less likely to see opportunities for self improvement. People who understand that the brain can become smarter tend to see failure as part of the natural learning process are more likely to respond positively to challenges and learning new things.

Mindset Affects How We Learn From Mistakes

Those who are focused on learning rather than solely on performance tend to learn more from their mistakes. Your mindset affects how you seek feedback and this is echoed in future performance.

This is well demonstrated in a study by Mangels et al. that examined the brain activation patterns of participants during a trivia test. In this study, participants showed the same activation patterns when they found out they had answered a question correctly. However, those with a growth mindset showed more brain activity after finding out they’d answer a questions incorrectly. They also found that those with a growth mindset were much more interested in learning the correct answer whereas those with a fixed mindset were more likely to tune out after finding out they were incorrect. At the end of the study the participants were asked to answer the same set of questions again and those with a growth mindset outperformed those with a fixed mindset.

Mindset Affects How We Approach Tasks

Two people with very similar circumstances can bring about very different results in their life on the basis of their unique mindset. How we approach a task directly affects how successful the outcome will be. Any task or goal will have obstacles to overcome and sometimes even setbacks. By approaching these tasks with a growth mindset we are better able to persevere in the face of failures and setbacks.

Thoughts are the starting point for everything that we do. You can decide to create the right mindset to achieve positive outcomes in your life by being selective about your thoughts. One of the best ways to do this is to practice mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness will help you to gain awareness about your thoughts and to help you to be able to control them. Check out our blog on How to Bring Mindfulness into your Workday.